The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Greedy, piratical Colonel Pyncheon builds his mansion on ill-gotten ground, setting the stage for generations of suffering. Years later, a country cousin and an enigmatic young boarder attempt to reverse the tide of misfortunes surrounding the house in Hawthorne's evocative blend of mystery and romance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486115092
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 01/22/2013
Series: Dover Thrift Editions
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 89,173
File size: 774 KB
Age Range: 11 Years

About the Author

Nathaniel Hawthorne’sability to weave worlds of plaintive beauty is somewhat at odds with his family background. His ancestry, which stems back to the Salem witch trials of 1692, contains a bloody, judgmental history used to dramatic effect in his novels and short stories. For Hawthorne, the sins of the father being passed on through subsequent generations was a haunting image, which he believed shadowed his own family.

Date of Birth:

July 4, 1804

Date of Death:

May 19, 1864

Place of Birth:

Salem, Massachusetts

Place of Death:

Plymouth, New Hampshire


Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824

Read an Excerpt

Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns, stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst. The street is Pyncheon-street; the house is the old Pyncheon-house; and an elm-tree, of wide circumference, rooted before the door, is familiar to every town-born child by the title of the Pyncheon-elm. On my occasional visits to the town aforesaid, I seldom failed to turn down Pyncheon-street, for the sake of passing through the shadow of these two antiquities; the great elm-tree and the weather-beaten edifice.

The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human countenance, bearing the traces not merely of outward storm and sunshine, but expressive also of the long lapse of mortal life, and accompanying vicissitudes that have passed within. Were these to be worthily recounted, they would form a narrative of no small interest and instruction, and possessing, moreover, a certain remarkable unity, which might almost seem the result of artistic arrangement. But the story would include a chain of events extending over the better part of two centuries, and, written out with reasonable amplitude, would fill a bigger folio volume, or a longer series of duodecimos, than could prudently be appropriated to the annals of all New England during a similar period. It consequently becomes imperative to make short work with most of the traditionary lore of which the old Pyncheon-house, otherwise known as the House of the Seven Gables, has been the theme. With a brief sketch, therefore, of the circumstances amid which the foundation of the house was laid, and arapid glimpse at its quaint exterior, as it grew black in the prevalent east wind pointing, too, here and there, at some spot of more verdant mossiness on its roof and walls, we shall commence the real action of our tale at an epoch not very remote from the present day. Still, there will be a connection with the long past; a reference to forgotten events and personages, and to manners, feelings, and opinions, almost or wholly obsolete; which, if adequately translated to the reader, would serve to illustrate how much of old material goes to make up the freshest novelty of human life. Hence, too, might be drawn a weighty lesson from the little-regarded truth, that the act of the passing generation is the germ which may and must produce good or evil fruit, in a far-distant time; that, together with the seed of the merely temporary crop, which mortals term expediency, they inevitably sow the acorns of a more enduring growth, which may darkly overshadow their posterity.

The House of the Seven Gables, antique as it now looks, was not the first habitation erected by civilized man on precisely the same spot of ground. Pyncheon-street formerly bore the humbler appellation of Maule's Lane, from the name of the original occupant of the soil, before whose cottage-door it was a cow-path.

Table of Contents

A gloomy New England mansion provides the setting for this classic exploration of ancestral guilt and its expiation through the love and goodwill of succeeding generations.
Nathaniel Hawthorne drew inspiration for this story of an immorally obtained property from the role his forebears played in the 17th-century Salem witch trials. Built over an unquiet grave, the House of the Seven Gables carries a dying man's curse that blights the lives of its residents for over two centuries. Now Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, an iron-hearted hypocrite and intellectual heir to the mansion's unscrupulous founder, is attempting to railroad a pair of his elderly relatives out of the house. Only two young people stand in his way—a visiting country cousin and an enigmatic boarder skilled in mesmerism.
Hawthorne envisioned this family drama of evil, revenge, and resolution as a microcosm of Salem's own history as in idealistic society corrupted by greed and pride. His enduring view of the darkness at the heart of the national soul has made The House of the Seven Gables a landmark of American literature.

Reading Group Guide

1. Hawthorne considered this novel to be a romance, which in literary terms refers to a narrative, allegorical treatment of heroic, fantastic, or supernatural events. Do you think this term accurately describes the book? Why or why not?

2. What do you make of the relationship between interior consciousness and external appearance in the novel? How does this conflict, as experienced by each of the central characters, inform the novel? And how does the house serve as a metaphor for this struggle?

3. Discuss the theme of class and social structure in the novel. What do you think Hawthorne intends in his depiction of Hepzibah's and Clifford's slow decline, and the curse on the Pyncheons' house? Are these related in any way? What about the role of the Maules?

4. Is the house a kingdom or a prison? Neither, or both? What is the curse that afflicts the Pyncheons? Discuss.

5. Discuss the role played by Holgrave in the novel. How does his nomadic, rootless existence stand in contrast to the Pyncheons? How does his marriage to Phoebe complicate this?

6. Discuss the scene in which Clifford attempts to join the procession. How does this illuminate the fundamental struggle of the Pyncheon family?

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The House of the Seven Gables 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Heloise More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great and did give off certain eerie vibes. It's true that there were many passages that were long, but if truly taken in they were filled with such depth that would truly make us question our own morals and way of thinking. I would recommend this book to not just any extreme literature buff, but to anyone looking to engross themselves in history and who dare to look into their own hearts and break the binds of society.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hawthorne combines 3 centuries of American history and 2 families misfortune in one of the greatest novels ever written by one of the greatest American writers ever known. If you like history, mystery, irony and think for yourself you will love this book.
Anthy More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with Hawthorne after reading The Scarlet Letter in high school, so I decided to check out this book. I must say, I love it. You definitely do need an understanding of the time period to tolerate the writing as has been said by other reviewers. I don't mind his long-winded descriptions at all, and I think a lot of people that complain about it just don't know how to read anything that isn't modern. Anyways, great story, and it made me that much more excited when I actually got to travel and see the real house. Must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before you read the House of 7 Gables, fly to Salem and go to the actual house! Seeing the house and walking down the dark corridors while smelling the musty, old odor of the home makes reading the book 150 times easier and better. The book follows a family and a house for about 300 years. The majority of the book is focused on the last (?) generation, but it begins with the acquiring of the land and the building of the house. The Wealthy Colonel Pyncheon covets the carpenter Mathew Maule¿s land. A few years later during the witch hysteria in Salem Matthew Maule is brought before a judge on witchcraft charges. Maule is sentenced to death by hanging. Before he was hung, Maule curses the Pyncheon family. The Colonel is undaunted and continues to buy the land and build an extravagant house on Maule¿s property. When the house is finished and the Colonel throws a huge house warming party. Just before the party started the Colonel was found dead and a deed to a large amount of property is missing. Generations search in vain for that piece of parchment. Hawthorne then fast forwards to the current Generation. You meet Hephzibah Pyncheon; an old maid who is one of the last Pyncheon¿s and lives in the old mansion. The great fortune is gone and the poor woman is forced to open a store to survive. She is not very good at tending shop and is delighted when her young cousin, phoebe comes into town from the country and helps her with the shop. Later Hephzibah¿s brother Clifford returns from Prison, where he has spent the better part of his life. Phoebe helps bring some sunlight into their dreary lives but their other cousin, Judge Pyncheon drains what the house doesn¿t with his visits. I can¿t say anymore because I¿ll tell you too much and you won¿t need to read the book. Oh one more word of advice make sure you get a good copy with a glossary because many of Hawthorne¿s words were outdated and confusing in his time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This copy is practically illegible, the editing is so bad.
TheNightTide More than 1 year ago
To begin with, while I have not read any of Hawthorne's other works, I do enjoy reading the "classics," which is one of the reasons I decided to read this book. It was approaching Halloween and I was in the mood for a classic horror/ghost story in the old Gothic style of literature. However, after struggling through the book page-by-page and inch-by-inch, I cannot recommend this novel to anyone but the most extreme literature buffs. Where it wasn't boring, it was long winded. Where it wasn't long winded it was repetitive. It wasn't scary at all, and I understand that it has been a while since the book was written, but it just didn't give off any scary vibes at all. The atmosphere was instead just dreary and depressing. And worst of all, by the end, I honestly did not care what happened to any of the characters. I did not feel engaged or empathetic to their plight in the least, and this is perhaps Hawthorne's greatest failure. He failed to get his reader to want to finish his story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the worst book that I've ever attempted to read. It is so boring that reading a text book is more intresting. Hawthorne is way to wordy, I just couldn't get into this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It did last a bit long, and the old English was somewhat hard to follow, but overall was good. It's not, however, Hawthorne's finest. The Scarlet Letter is one of the most amazing books I've ever read, and perhaps that's why I was slightly disappointed with this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This piece of is a gothic romance cloaked in the history of Salem Massachusetts written by prolific Nathaniel Hawthorne whose writings, by chance, are considered by many in literary circles to be required reading because they are considered to be 'classics'. The trouble here is defining 'classic'. I chanced to do this once, just prior to graduating with a BA in literature from a private college of a professor from the literary department and received the much expected and equally disappointing answer 'you just know'. By correlation 'you just know' when a book is a bad read and such is the case here. Slow, methodical and plodding, little of interest takes place within or without the walls of the famed 'House of Seven Gables' that captures a readers interest. This is one books whose pages, much like the doors and windows of the house central to this novel, should remain shut and barred to the outside world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for an english book report and it put me to sleep everytime i started to read it! The author seems to have never ending chapters about absolutely nothing. I don't recommend this novel to anyone who doesn't want to bore themselves to death. Speaking of death that is the only interesting part of the book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never in my life found another book with such a slow start that ended in such a delightful read! I gave it a three-star rating but the beginning of the book deserves a two while the second half pushes the upper limits of a four. I originally chose this title to fill a dual purpose: First, we needed an American pre-civil war author, preferably one who wrote a mystery representative of the popular literature of that era. Secondly, I was looking for something that would stretch a student's vocabulary. This book delivered on both objectives, and the touch of romance didn't hurt either.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hawthorne, I will admitt, gets a bit caught up in details, but if you can wade through them, it really gives the story a tangible setting, which the reader can feel part of. I was more able to appreciate it when finished because I could look back on it as a whole. If you enjoy the strange subtleties of the Gothic Romance novel, than you should enjoy The House of Seven Gables!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was mistaken in thinking that I was in for a literary treat with this novel. A choppy, misguided story with a ho-hum ending doesn't make for an entertaining read. Don't bother.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. It seemed mysterious and vague at first, and I realized that it was vague throughout the entire book. Although Hawthorn described scenes in a very intricate way, the story stayed in one scene for almost four pages. Of course, since people back then didn't have television, Hawthorn had to discribe with as much detail as possible the scenery, so that viewers could imagine. The thing he is really creative at is putting you into the scenery. Like a bistandard just whatching the comings and goings of everyday lives. The mystery involved was deep and rather hard to ever figure out. It is never completely revealed, even in the end, but, it does keep you on the edge of your seat. I recommend this to readers of Classic titles.
keiko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Phoebe Pyncheon arrives at her cousin's old house to help her cousion Hepzibah. But thre is mystery in the house.In the story, landscape is calm and nice.The mysterious mood is also good.
epkwrsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Spinster Hepzibah Pyncheon lives alone with a scowl on her face in her family home until the day Cousin Phoebe with her bright sunshine shows up to lighten every aspect of Hepzibah's dreary existence. Together they try and hold the Pyncheon legacy together in the old house and seem to be doing well until Hepzibah's brother Clifford returns and brings back to the surface a generations old curse on the Pyncheon family. A hidden deed, stolen property, mysterious relatives and a house that has seen it all weave a story that takes the reader back to the very beginning, providing clues along the way. What really happened between the Pyncheons and Maules; why was one family set for life and the other destined to live in poverty? What really happened that night so many years ago to plunge brother Clifford into a lifetime of despair? And, most importantly, who is the real villain of this story??My Thoughts:I thoroughly enjoyed this book...I enjoyed the language and the descriptions and didn't get caught up in them as I've read some people do. Of course American Lit is my favorite, so I'm sure I'm biased. I think what I needed from this book was a truly enjoyable slow paced, but not too slow paced, journey through a narrative. I definitely got that.I felt like I knew Hepzibah, Phoebe and even Clifford. I hated Judge Pyncheon because he just reeked of meanness, and the way he treated Clifford was if he was just trying to push Clifford over the edge. Holgrave, who lived in one of the gables, gave me the creeps a little because he was such a mysterious character the entire time...I was never sure of his intentions, nor was I sure Hepzibah or Phoebe was safe with him. I loved Phoebe and Hepzibah...Hepzibah for her acceptance of her life (to a certain extent) and for welcoming Phoebe into her home and not even being jealous when her beloved brother wanted to spend more time with Phoebe than her...and Phoebe's simple acceptance of Hepzibah, just the way she was. I also loved Phoebe's simple love of life. She opened her eyes each morning to see the sun, to see Clifford, to see their garden, to spend time in the shop...she is a true pure hear, and I think her presence was a blessing for Hepzibah.I kept waiting for a ghost. Twice I thought I had the story figured out...and twice I was wrong. When Clifford and Hepzibah left, I didn't see that coming at all and was so disappointed but frightened at the same time. I decided then that Clifford was a psychopath...See. I was all over the place...and I really didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't figure this out until the very end of the story, and that was cool bc it doesn't happen very often for me anymore. Are you confused?Good.:)Final Recommendation:I would read this one again just for the sheer enjoyment of reading Hawthorne's prose-like narrative. If you enjoy words, language, Hawthorne, "typical" American Lit, dark, spooky old timey stories, you'll like this one.Don't try to fly through it though; take your time and enjoy it :)Yes, I'm an English teacher; why do you ask?;)
crazyjster on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After 20 years of dragging the book around I finally got past page 7. As a Boston native and spending a great deal of time in Salem near "The House of Seven Gables," I felt as a teacher I should read the book. It was quite difficult to get into...very slow in the beginning, but about half-way through the story picks up and the Pyncheon family become interesting. The characters are eccenctric and twisted, and the story well is interestingly weird.
krau0098 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've had a copy of the House of Seven Gables sitting on my bookshelf for a number of years. The poor little book is slightly out of place between a plethora of fantasy and science fiction novels. Every once in a while I try to venture into a different realm of subject. That's the reason I finally picked up this book to read. I would have read it sooner but I was forced to read "The Scarlet Letter" in high school and never had the heart to read another Nathaniel Hawthorne novel.Not expecting much, I have to say I was very impressed with this book. The details got to be a bit much at times. I have to admit there were parts of the book that I scanned quit quickly because I just didn't need to know that much description about a certain thing.That being said, Hawthorne was very good at clearly painting a picture in my head. I could smell the mustiness of the house, feel the joy when Phoebe entered a room, and feel Clifford's sadness and confusion. What took me by surprise was the sharp wit throughout the book and intellectualness of this wit. Quit often I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dry humor in this book. Also of course there was the mystery of the book which kept you hanging on until the end.I don't know that I will read any additional Hawthorne novels but I would recommend this as a good example of his work. It is much more interesting and engaging than the Scarlet Letter.
HannahEvans on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"This contrast, or intermingling of tragedy with mirth, happens daily, hourly, momently. This gloomy and desolate old house, deserted of life, and with awful Death sitting sternly in its solitude, was the emblem of many a human heart, which, nevertheless, is compelled to hear the thrill and echo of the world's gaiety around it." The incredible detail of The House of Seven Gables left me feeling extreme pity one moment and laughing out loud to myself the next. This was just about everything I could ask for in a novel - a curse that spans generations, a haunted house and a wealth of description. A great read.
mccin68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was intrigued by the back cover and the promise of a ghost story and came away fustrated and disappointed. a great, creepy set-up in the early passages but the endless pages of minute descriptions were repetitious and interrupted the flow of the story. the supernatural elements appeared to be after thoughts crammed into the story rather than driving it.
bzedan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Though Gothic in style, the comparative lightness of this book's themes (as opposed to The Scarlet Letter) allows the full wryness of Hawthorne to blossom. God, especially in the descriptions of Hepzibah. Don't get me wrong, there is full creepiness at some points, but it's light hearted in a way, as terrible things happen to the Pyncheons because they're Pyncheons, though they feel that that particular attribute¿being Pyncheons¿should be protecting them from such degradation and horror.
Terpsichoreus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hawthorne is the equivalent of nudging someone and winking without actually thinking of anything interesting, risque, beautiful, or even useful. It is sad that a man with such a voluminous writing ability was seemingly devoid of any notion of what to do with it.
MaowangVater on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Matthew Maule was hung for witchcraft. Just before he died he faced his chief persecutor in Salem, and cursed him. ¿At the moment of execution¿with the halter about his neck, and while Colonel Pyncheon sat on horseback, grimly gazing at the scene¿Maule had addressed him from the scaffold, and uttered a prophecy of which history, as well as fireside tradition, has preserved the very words. ¿God,¿ said the dying man, pointing his finger, with a ghastly look, at the undismayed countenance of his enemy, ¿God will give him blood to drink!¿ Hawthorne gives us an arch, exacting, and detailed descriptions of his characters and their interactions. As in this description of Judge Pyncheon¿s departure from the House of the Seven Gables, having been rebuffed by Hepzibah in his attempt to see the newly arrived Clifford. ¿As is customary with the rich, when they aim at the honors of a republic, he apologized, as it were, to the people, for his wealth, prosperity, and elevated station, by a free and hearty manner towards those who knew him; putting off the more of his dignity in due proportion with the humbleness of the man whom he saluted, and thereby proving a haughty consciousness of his advantages as irrefragably as if he had marched forth preceded by a troop of lackeys to clear the way.¿ Page 118
juliabeth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The usual Hawthorne makes for some long sentences, but not necessarily unwieldy; it just takes a little more concentration than some. I enjoyed very much this story of an old house and the family that lives in (and through) it. It reminded me a little of Poe's Fall of the House of Usher. An enjoyable read, but just note that it's from an earlier era when we had longer attention spans.
Mikalina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The House of the Seven Gables, one for each deadly sin; The scene for the allegory of the corrupted soul of man is set. But who is/are the corrupted soul-s? The present inhabitants of the house, Hepzibah and Clifford, a sister and brother with so refined tastes combined with lack of means that they come through as half-witted? Beside them there is but a very respectable and very rich cousin, Jugde Pynchon. Then along comes Holgrave, a daguerrotypist who is taken in as a lodger in the house, and little Phoebe, a young poor but levelheaded cousin, from a distant branch of the family, wandering from the countryside.The evil will be revealed, through the very architecture of the house and garden, through their small daily tasks and even through the daguerrotypes; The evil trancends superficial traits, and will eventually reveal who it works upon and how.A satire, a cultural critic and a romance at the same time. All done in a style demonstrating the theory of Trancendentalism. At first difficult to read; But once you decide to stay focused, you are treated to precise characterizations that only can be made using figuratively and poetic language, language that conjures up pictures revealing truths that in themselves are far from poetic.